THE HISTORY OF THE BREMERTON YACHT CLUB

Table of Contents

Abstract

Prepared for the Seattle Yacht Club 1992 Centennial
by
Capt. Ralph Smith (deceased)

In 1929 Floyd H. Phillips, who worked at the Bremerton Post Office, had a boat that often dragged anchor and ended up on somebody's beach. Though Bremerton was a small town, it was home to several pleasure craft. Floyd arranged a meeting on May 25, 1929, to discuss founding a yacht club. The group agreed to prepare bylaws, find a meeting place, and design a burgee. On June 17 Floyd was elected the first commodore of the Bremerton Yacht Club. Ten men signed on as charter members.

The city commissioners offered the old Charleston ferry dock as a meeting place. Though the structure had been condemned, the members were not discouraged. Work parties appeared immediately to repair the place. At the first meeting on the site, held on June 25, 1929, members agreed to an initiation fee of $5 per charter member, a fee that would rise to $10 after July 1. Dues were fixed at 50 cents a month in advance. At the next meeting, bylaws were approved, and the first official BYC function was a family cruise to Brownsville.

The city dog pound shared the dock with the yacht club and early members walked past four kennels of yapping canines. Members built a landing float, but boats had to anchor out in the bay. In March 1930, when Bob Haven was commodore, the ladies' auxiliary was formed by wives of members. Mrs. George Braendlein was chosen as their first president.

Elmer Brooks was installed as commodore in 1931. As membership increased, so did the number of boating and social events. The Queen City club; the Club (which had helped the Bremerton Club get started and had sponsored it in the established yachting community) joined the new club for a weekend cruise and clambake on Ostrich Bay. About 120 people attended 

Members continued to seek a permanent site, but the minuscule ($60) treasury remained a problem.

In 1934 Bremerton boats for the first time entered the Capital-to-Capital Race to Nanaimo. Also that year a junior group was sponsored. The "Big Blow of 1934" is well remembered. A gale of tornado proportion struck on Oct. 21, 1934, battering a dozen boats at the Charleston moorage; only two weathered the storm. The floats were swept away and not retrieved by the Coast Guard for several days. That storm ended BYC's interest at the Charleston dock. . Captain Braendlein served as commodore in 1935, the year the club stowed its properties in a rented garage and scheduled meetings in homes of members and in downtown offices.

On June 10, 1935, the club placed a $10 down payment on waterfront property at Ostrich Bay, but a strong north wind blasted the inlet, and the wind combined with ill will from surrounding property owners blew the yacht club right out.

The big event of the 1935 season was the  Everett Predicted Log Race.  BYC members went to Everett en masse and captured the three top prizes plus first place in the dinghy tug-of-war.

In September,  members voted down the opportunity to apply for a liquor license even though prohibition had ended. The first woman member- Avadana Cochrane, a credit bureau manager, joined the club in the fall of 1935. That year the club incorporated and a past-commodores' club was formed.

In March 1935 the club agreed to make time payments on property near the Navy Yard Highway on Sinclair Inlet. The members again voted on the divisive issue of serving liquor in the club; the motion lost by one vote. Work parties installed new floats at the property, which were financed by a $10-per-member assessment. New piling was driven.

In 1936 the club had plans to buy the old Seattle clubhouse in West Seattle and float it to their new site, but someone else bought it first. In 1937, the city agreed to install a municipal float on the club site if members would insure it and assume liability. Membership burgeoned as facilities be came available. While Elmer Brooks was commodore in 1938 a clubhouse was built under contract. The meeting of March 7 was the first in the new facility.

Monthly dances were sponsored by the club to raise money for completing the clubhouse, but at 25 cents admission, little more than headaches was generated. George Tappe and a crew of club members saw to the decorating of the interior of  the club, and furniture and a piano were purchased.

On the shakedown cruise of 1938, several boats visited Fox Island. Memorial Day services that year involved Spanish-American War veterans on BYC boats. That summer the club sponsored the International Race to Nanaimo for the first time.

The state decided to build a new highway through BYC property in 1940. For the right-of- way they paid the club $400 and filled and graded the parking lot. As they were building, they had to blast a cliff rear the club, and before each blast, the contractor would phone the club which, in turn, would call members to move their boats out into the bay to escape any flying boulders.

C. J. Richie took over as commodore in 1941. The last official cruise until after World War II took members to Fletcher Bay on Sept. 7, 1941, for the annual corn roast. After the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor, many yachtsmen secured their boats for the duration. Twenty four others joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. During the war, no night running was allowed, many areas were off limits, and gasoline was scarce.

BYC Commodore H. D. Thompson in 1944 heard that a railroad might be built through club property. A potential new site was found on Phinney Bay where 475 feet of waterfront was purchased for $4,500-a bargain even then. On July, 4, 1944, the club was ordered to vacate its premises within ,30 days so railroad construction could begin. Trustees had a basement excavated on the Phinney Bay lots and space leveled for parking.

An old-timer, Dr. Ray Schutt, lent the club $10,000 at liability. - no interest to ready the facility. Piling was driven in November, and the old clubhouse moved to the new site. BYC Commodore Ray Hart named a committee in 1946 to take care of the small stores department and stock concession items including gas and oil. The first profits purchased a fine furnace for the basement. Commodore Hart outlined a comprehensive program for the year.

On Washington's birthday BYC hosted every yacht club on the sound - at a Heavy Weather Cruise and Dance that attracted 40 yachts and 250 visitors. In 1953 BYC Commodore Harry Gundlach oversaw a $15,000 improvement of the moorage facilities. In 1957 while Hal Edwards was at the helm, property purchased years earlier at Point Monroe for $600 was sold for $5,500. During 1958 when Howard Huston was leading the club, a new mailing address was obtained 2700 Yacht Haven Way . In 1964 Commodore Grady Barrentine handled the question of public access across club property. A meeting with an adjoining property owner resulted in no agreements. The club decided to close the entrance of the parking lot for one day a year to keep it from becoming a public thoroughfare.

In 1966 Dr. W. E. Rownd skippered the club through a dispute with the state over waterfront rights. Chet Simpier handled the affair, and the club finally agreed to a fee of $275 a year with no retroactive rent.  While W. G. "Woody" Woodard was commodore in 1967, plans for a new clubhouse were presented by Ed Day and Stan Wardin. Authorization to spend $150,000 was secured, but in the end,  Ted Morneau presented a plan to have only the framing contracted out.  Members finished the work at a total cost of $40,000. The club had a fine new home, comfortable caretaker's quarters, and no mortgage. 

Over the last two decades, the Bremerton Yacht Club has continued to thrive, building on the firm foundation established back in 1929. 

To be continued.


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